Ed Schollmaier, leader at Alcon and cultural benefactor, dies at 87

Ed Schollmaier at opening of Schollmaier Arena at TCU TCU photo

Ed Schollmaier, CEO of Alcon Laboratories for 25 years, and a generous supporter of Texas Christian University and Fort Worth culture, died Sept. 16.

He was 87.

Details of services were unavailable.

“On behalf of the Horned Frog family, we are profoundly saddened by the passing of our mentor and friend, Ed Schollmaier. Ed was truly a visionary for the future of Texas Christian University, which had a profound and lasting impact on the TCU campus and community,” TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said.

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“He was a driving force in our expansion and deserves the credit for many of the advancements made in our physical footprint over the past few decades. Many people are familiar with his and his late wife Rae’s most public-facing contribution, the gift that led to the naming of the Schollmaier Arena,” Boschini said.

“The entire Alcon family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ed Schollmaier,” the company said. “Mr. Schollmaier was CEO of Alcon and leaves a lasting impact on how we continue to help people around the world see brilliantly.”

“Ed had a keen understanding of the importance of vision and eye care, along with an extraordinary ability to cultivate meaningful innovation that helped shape the future of the industry,” said David Endicott, Alcon CEO. “He will be sorely missed, and his legacy lives on in how we serve the vision needs of people around the world every day.”

Schollmaier started in sales with Alcon in Pittsburgh, and later moved to Fort Worth, the company’s then-headquarters, in 1961. He was appointed president before becoming CEO.

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“Ed’s leadership and service helped Alcon grow into the global leader in eye care it remains today,” Alcon said.

Schollmaier was a rarity among CEOs. He worked for one company, Alcon, almost his entire career and was CEO from 1972 to 1997. “I had 25 years, which is a blessing because very few CEOs get to put in more than six or seven years,” he said in a 2016 interview. “In 25 years, you can take a long-term look.”

Alcon grew from $36 million to $2 billion in sales during his tenure and became the largest ophthalmic company in the world, according to the company history on its website.

“This is a personal loss for my family,” Boschini said. “He was an important mentor for me, like I know he was to many. Ed was a tireless fan, always thinking bigger than himself. He was the shining example of an amazing person who ‘adopted’ TCU and made indelible contributions to this city, to our university and to me personally that will live on for years. We are so very fortunate to have been a part of his life.”

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“Ed Schollmaier made an unbelievable impact as a leader in the TCU and Fort Worth communities,” TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said in an article on the TCU 360 website.

“Over the course of his 25 years on our Board of Trustees, which included serving on and chairing several committees, Mr. Schollmaier had a tremendous passion for basketball,” Donati sad

Schollmaier, and his wife, Rae, donated $10 million to TCU Athletics for renovation of the basketball facilities in 2015 and were lead donors of what was a $72 million project for the university.

Rae Schollmaier died in 2015 and Ed Schollmaier helped TCU dedicate the renovated arena two months later.

“Ed Schollmaier was probably as close to a Renaissance man as you can find in today’s era,” said Mary Dulle, who worked for Mr. Schollmaier for many years. “His business acumen, love of culture, enjoyment of sports, and devotion to research and education were unparalleled.”

Schollmaier received the 2015 Golden Deeds Award from the Exchange Club of Fort Worth because of his service to Alcon and to Fort Worth.

This story will be updated.

From archives: Meet Ed Schollmaier – the most important Fort Worth CEO you may not know